Facebook and Social Networking Sites: A Goldmine for Impeachment Material

Anyone who has a Facebook page has probably done it – posted the infamous “late night,” or “angry” post. Pictures of you skydiving, or you with your new boy-toy that is keeping you company while your divorce is pending are possibly part of your Facebook Photo Albums. These things may come back to haunt you down the road in the event you find yourself in litigation. Those skydiving shots may be used to impeach your testimony in an automobile accident claim, wherein you are alleging loss of the enjoyment of life or a permanent injury. You may find yourself going through a divorce where the allegations take a nasty turn.

A New York appellate court recently decided in Romano v Steelcase, Inc. 907 N.Y.S.2d 650, (S.Ct 2010), that private information sought from plaintiff’s social networking website accounts was material and necessary for defendant’s defense. In the case, the plaintiff alleged that as a result of the negligence of defendant, she suffered damages, including loss of the enjoyment of life. Defendant requested current and historical records from her Facebook and MySpace pages to show that she lived an active lifestyle. Over defendant’s objection, the Court ruled that this data was discoverable. The Court further ruled that Plaintiff did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in information published on social networking websites; and defendant’s need for access to plaintiff’s private information on social networking websites outweighed any privacy concerns voiced by plaintiff.

Author: Melissa Archer

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